The Victorian AIDS Council in Australia sounded an alarm Thursday after HIV infections increased for the third year in a row. New Department of Human Services figures show 234 new cases of HIV were reported last year. After a decline in the number of new HIV cases during the late 1980s to a low of 140 in 1999, they have since climbed steadily, with 198 in 2000 and 218 in 2001. The rise in cases is a reminder that the epidemic is not over, and sexually active gay men still need to protect themselves and their partners, Victorian AIDS Council Executive Director Mike Kennedy said. "These figures represent a 68 percent increase in HIV notifications since the low point of the epidemic in 1999," he said. "The Victorian government needs to respond urgently to these figures and work with the rest of the HIV partnership to expand our prevention and testing efforts," he said. A spokesperson for Health Minister Bronwyn Pike said the state government had invested significant resources in VAC and would continue to support HIV/AIDS services in next Tuesday's budget.
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